Paying it Forward


Recently, I wrote a column on the late Don Roberts. I received more positive feedback from that column than anything I’ve ever written. Coach Roberts talked the talk and, more importantly, walked the walk.

In spite of his battle with cancer, he counted his blessings daily and always paid it forward. I wrote that much like Obi-Wan Kenobi from Star Wars, his presence would be stronger in the afterlife.

After reading the column, I received a message from Todd Scholl, Director of Sales and Marketing at The Hotel at Auburn University. I didn’t know Todd, but he knew Don Roberts.

I knew Coach Roberts for 30 years; Todd only knew him for about four years, but time is often insignificant. We have the ability to impact lives immediately. Todd moved his family here from Kansas City, and his older son felt completely disconnected.

“We found Lee Scott Academy and truly can thank Don Roberts for turning the tide for our son. He made him feel special and welcomed to this new place,” Todd wrote.

Several months ago, Todd invited Coach Roberts to come and enjoy some of Ms. Annie’s famous fried chicken at the hotel. Due to scheduling conflicts, they were never able to make it happen.

“I am heartbroken he never made it to lunch and wondered if I can treat you in his honor for such a fine piece on a finer man?” Todd continued.

Of course, I took him up on his offer. I rarely pass up a free meal, so we dined in Don’s honor. He even sent a plate home for Lucy, who at seven months pregnant wasn’t feeling very well. Todd paid it forward.

Two days later, Lucy sent me to pick up a $20 desk she’d found from a seller on Facebook. Her mother loaned us her SUV in order to do so. It was too big for our car.

We loaded the desk into the SUV before I went on my way. As I was leaving, there was another gentleman picking up a night stand; however, it would not fit in his car. I felt his struggle. I didn’t know him from Adam’s house cat.

Since my mother-in-law had helped us, I tried to pay it forward and offered to transport the nightstand for him. He took me up on my offer and even tried to pay me $20 for my troubles. That would have covered the cost of the desk, but I declined. Paying it forward profits the heart and soul, not the pocketbook—not that I have a pocketbook.

After unloading the night stand, we chatted for a bit. His name was John, and he is the Director of Finances at, of all places, The Hotel at Auburn University. He and Todd are thick as thieves. I was mind blown. There are 100,000 people in the area. He could have been anyone.

Paying it forward with random act of kindness goes a long way and eventually comes full circle right back from where it started. Trust me. I’ve been blessed far more that I deserve.

Jody Fuller is from Opelika. He is a comic, speaker, writer and soldier with three tours of duty in Iraq. He is also a lifetime stutterer. He can be reached at For more information, please visit